Leyte belongs to the Visayas group of islands and lies on the eastern part of the Philippines.
Leyte has a colorful history. The islanders of Leyte were among the first to welcome the Spaniards but they were also among the first to resist the Spanish invaders. The early revolts and uprising against the encroaching Spaniards was started by the freedom, war–like, heavily tattooed inhabitants of Leyte. In Leyte, the early seeds of nationalism were planted.
In 1521, after the perilous crossing half way around the globe Magellan reached the island of Homonhon. The friendly natives welcomed and fed the starving sailors. After stocking up on supplies, Magellan set sail for to the island of Limasawa, Leyte. He entered into a blood compact with Rajah Kolambu. On Eastern Sunday, March 31, of that year, was celebrated the First Mass in the Philippines. Some historical researchers, however, are now disputing this. However a recent publication by the National Historical Institute supports its initial claim that Limasawa was the site of the First Mass.
The Spanish occupation of the Phillippine islands was riddled with revolts and uprising. First off on the scene was a religious uprising lead by Bancao, the Limasawa chief, and his high priest, Pagail in 1622. The revolt began in Carigara and spread to neighboring towns before it was quelled. This revolt lasted for 27 years. Then the Sumuroy rebellion which was gaining popular support in Samar found its foot hold in Leyte. Rebels burned churches and convents in retaliation of the excesses and avarices of the friars.
In 1768, Leyte and Samar were separated into two provinces. Leyte now is a politico-military province. The set up continued until the end of Spanish rule, when Gen. Vicente Lukban took over Leyte and Samar in the name of the Revolutionary Government.
World War II put Leyte on the map of world history. Leyte is the site of the fiercest and largest naval battle in world history. Known as the Battle of the Leyte Gulf in the World War II, the four day battle culminated in the beachhead landing of the Allied forces headed by Gen. McArthur. The successful naval and air battle in the Leyte Gulf includes the naval fighting of the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Battle of Cape Engaño and the Battle off Samar.
In the Battle of the Leyte Gulf, the Japanese first launched its kamikaze attacks against the Allied forces. The Battle of the Leyte Gulf is celebrated annually with a ceremony known as the Leyte Landing, in which the heroic courage of both the Filipino guerrilla soldiers, and Allied forces are remembered and honoured.
On May 22, 1959, the province was divided into Leyte and Southern Leyte. In 1992 Biliran became a separate province of its own.
Leyte is now divided into three provinces: Leyte, Biliran and Southern Leyte. Southern Leyte is includes the island of Panaon. Biliran is a small island on the northern coast connected from the Leyte mainland by a bridge.
The major cities in Leyte are, Tacloban City, Ormoc City on the northwest of Leyte, Bayabay City on the western coast, and Maasin City on the south.
Recently, Tacloban City turned into a Highly Urbanized City ( HUC), by virtue of the November 2008 plebiscite. As a Highly Urbanized City, it is independent of the supervision of the Leyte Province, and a lone congressional district. Proponents of the HUC status believed that by being an HUC Tacloban City government will attract more investors and business.
Leyte is known for the Tongonan Geothermal Power Plant in Tongonan, a demonstration of using natural resources to provide electricity to the province and even neighbouring islands.
The prime exports of Leyte include coconut, and abaca. It is also the home of coconut wine called “tuba”. Aged for six months to a year, this “tuba” is then called bahalina, priced liquor in every occasion. The municipality of Palo is known for its smooth bahalina, whose recipes and techniques are guarded family secrets.
The town of Dagami in Leyte produces binagol, moron, sagmanai and roscas. These delicacies are a must-have in every town fiesta, and occasions. Binagol (sweetened taro pudding with nuts) is made from talyan - a root crop specie like gabi that is endemic to Palapag Northern Samar. Talyan is grounded, and mixed with eggs, coconut milk, sugar, butter, nuts and chocolate. The mix is packed into the half of a polished coconut shell called “bagol,” covered with banana leaves steamed, tied securely with a string, and then steamed. Hence the name binagol which means placed in a “bagol”.
“Moron” is pronounced with a stress on the second syllable. It is made of ground rice cooked in coconut milk, flavored with tablea, and wrapped in banana leaf. Sagmani is another suman made of gabi or sweet potatoes cooked with coconut cream, sugar and sometimes coconut meat.
There are many things to do around Leyte catering to one’s interest, budget, and preference.
Leyte is one historical island, from welcoming the party of the Ferdinand Magellan when he circumnavigated the world to being the site of the bloodiest Naval Battle in world history. Tacloban, the capital of Leyte was the seat of the Philippine Government during the Liberation of 1944. History buffs will enjoy combing through the different historical sites in Leyte.
Gen. Douglas Macarthur Landing Memorial
The Liberation of the Philippines by the Allied Forces in 1944 headed by the party of Gen. McArthur is immortalized by life sized statues in Red Beach, Palo, Leyte. This event is celebrated annually every 20th of October. It is also the site of the 50th Leyte Landing Anniversary Commemorative Rock Garden of Peace.
Hill 522 Ginhangdan Hill
Ginhangdan Hill is entrance to the first liberated town of Palo in 1944 . The town suffered heavy bombardment to destroy the garrisons built by the Japanese artillery units. Foxholes built by the Japanese still exist. A memorial marker built by Mie Prefecture in memory of the lives lost in the battle. Guinhangdan is in Palo, Leyte, 12 kilometers form Tacloban.
Hill 120 is also called Catmon Hill which is located in Dulag Leyte. On October 20, 1944, the first American flag was raised by the Liberation Forces on this hill after heavy fighting. The Hill offers a panoramic view of Leyte Gulf and surrounding coastal towns. A historical park, it features a landscaped garden with tropical flowers and shrubs with benches, and concrete tables with canopy as well as restrooms. There is also an open-air stage where memorial programs are held annually.
Battle of Baluarte Marker
Baluarte in Brgy. Minuhang, Barugo, Leyte, is the site of the historic battle between Filipino guerrillas and Japanese Imperial Forces at dawn of August 24, 1944. The Battle of Baluarte suffered no casualty on the Filipino guerilla’s side while everyone in the Japanese Imperial Army was all killed except for one.
Hilongos Bell Tower
The Hilongos Bell Tower is the highest existing bell tower built during the Spanish era. The Bell Tower also served as watch post for marauding pirates from the south in Mindanao.
Japanese War Memorial Cemetery
The Japanese War Memorial Cemetery in Brgy. San Diego, Burauen is one of the few Japanese cemeteries in Leyte. Thousand of Japanese soldiers are buried in this cemetery. Japanese tour groups frequently visit the site to pay respects to the Japanese soldiers who died in the bloody battle of 1944. A remnant of the airfield built by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II still exists for visitors to see.
Buga Buga Hills was the mountain stronghold of Gen. Suzuki. Thousands of Japanese soldiers died defending Buga Buga Hills from the Allied Forces, who also lost a huge number of their men in an effort to cordon off the hill and isolate the Japanese troops. Buga Buga is another favourite among Japanese Tour groups. Bone hunting expeditions are also popular in the area. Buga Buga Hills is located in Villaba Leyte.
Philippine-Japan Peace Memorial
This impressive memorial in Carlota Hills, Ormoc City was a gift from the Nagoya and Gifu Prefectures. A token of friendship and peace form the Japanese people to the Philippines. La Carlota Hills affords visitors with a panoramic view of Ormoc City.
Boy Scout Monument
The Boy Scout Monument is the very first Boy Scout Monument created in human form in 1941. It is found in a Rotunda at Fatima Village, Tacloban City on the way to the airport.
Monument of the Filipino Soldier
The monument is a tribute to the Filipino World War II soldiers and veterans who offered their supreme sacrifice for the freedom. Located in the Rotunda at Brgy. Pawing, Palo, Leyte.
Palo Metropolitan Cathedral
The Palo Cathedral was built by Augustinian friars in 1596. The church was converted into an evacuation hospital of the Allied Forces of Liberation and a refuge of civilians during World War II. From the Church, can be seen the famous Hill 522. The Cathedral features artworks in intricate finishing by local artisans such as the gold-plated altar and carved Stations of the Cross.
Sta. Fe Community Museum
The Community Museum in Sta. Fe is a fine example of historical awareness on grassroots level. Initiated by the municipal government of Sta.Fe, the museum was built to house antiques dating back to the Spanish per, Chinese porcelain jars, and WW II mementos. The museum is in the compound of the Sta. Fe Municipal Hall
Leyte is a complete outdoors experience, found all in one island. Enjoy go mountain climbing, anywhere in Burauen , to Lake Danao in Ormoc. Stumble into breath taking waterfalls hidden in dense jungles in Biliran . The world famous San Juanico Strait is perfect for kayaking . The protected fish sanctuaries of Sogod Bay are perfect for snorkelling, and diving for whale sharks. The long undulating coastline of Leyte will give you stretches of beach for swimming and picnics. The towns of Tanuan all the way to Tolosa and Dulag are popular skim boarding sites. Southern Leyte offers numerous caves of varying sizes for caving adventures. Relax and laze on the many pristine white sand beaches of Cuatro Islas, Higatangan, Maripipi, and Sambawan. Oftentimes you have the island to yourself, away from the throngs of the crowd.
San Juanico Strait
The world’s narrowest yet most navigable strait lies between the islands of Samar and Leyte. Beautiful islets are scattered on this emerald green waters punctuated by infinite whirlpools. Most ideal for kayaking, and snorkelling.
Tadyaw Beach Resort
Hands down, this is one of the best beach resort in Leyte, on the Pacific side. Tadyaw, in Tolosa Leyte is a landscaped garden resort, with manicured lawns. It has abundant space in between picnic kiosks, good shower area, and outstanding restrooms. The sparkling jet black sand beach is a good site for skim boarding. The resort has a small restaurant that serves short orders.
A virgin forest at 4,000 ft. above sea level. Mt. Kankahay in Jaro Leyte is a haven for hunting game, but shooting game is no longer advised. A good site for mountain climbing.
Mahagnao National Park
Mahagnao National Park in Burauen is an established national park since 1937. It is a dormant with a huge crater turned that turned into a lake. There are multiple hot springs for soaking, and lagoons for swimming. See beautiful giant ferns, wild orchids, and wild birds.
Leyte Mountain Trail
The Leyte Mountain Trail is an outstanding trekking area which starts from the Mahagnao Natural Park in, Burauen to Lake Danao Natural Park in Ormoc, a distance of approximately 40 km. This rainforest tour of three to four days takes you to the beautiful lakes of – Mahagnao, Malagsum, Casudsu-ran and Danao. Be amazed by the spectacular Guinaniban Falls, and the breathtaking view of mountains, forests, plains and the island of Samar and Leyte from the crest of the central Amandiwing Mountain Range. Enjoy the heady profusion of tropical flora and fauna including colourful insects, butterflies, dragonflies, bugs, giant millipedes, deers, wild boars, monkeys, birds, orchids, and giant ferns. There are four resting huts along the trail. At present the trail currently closed to hikers and mountaineers for security reason. An alternative route is to visit each part from separate entry points – Mahagnao in Buarauen, and Lake Danao in Ormoc. We will update you as soon as this trail is declared open.
Tongonan Hotsprings National Park
The Tongonan Geothermal Power Plant is located inside the Tongonan Hotsprings National Park. This is the first geothermal power plant to operate in the Philippines. This valley of geothermal power can supply electricity to the whole region when fully developed.
Kalanggaman Island, Palompon Leyte.
Kalanggaman is a two hectare small island paradise between north of Cebu and Leyte. The island belongs to the town of Palompon, Leyte; it is about an hour ride by boat either from Palompon or Villaba, Leyte. The island has two white sand bars, one which protrudes towards the east and the other at the southern end. The eastern sand bar stretches for more than 200 meters into the sea, while the other one is only half as long which is submerged under water during high tides. There are no inhabitants except for fishermen who make the island as their rest stop before they embark again for fishing. The crossing from Kalanggaman to Leyte is noted to be treacherous especially towards late in the afternoon. It is always advised to go there in the morning.
Tabuk Marine Sanctuary, Tabuk, Palompon
Tabuk Island is a mangrove sanctuary protected by the municipality of Palompon. The 3-storey watch-tower in Tabuk Island is perfect for viewing the mangrove forest, and the adjacent main town of Palompon. It is also perfect for catching the colourful sunsets. A boardwalk through the mangrove forest takes you to see numerous fishes swimming freely. Wild ducks and migratory birds make this spot a stopover in their journey. On the other side of the mangrove is thousands of sleeping giant bats hanging upside down on trees. There are also picnic cottages next to the sea for swimming.
Located in Ormoc City, 125 km. from Tacloban City. A violin-shaped lake 2,100 feet above sea level and 3 km, long; hemmed by cloud-capped-mountain ranges of undetermined depth; wild animals roaming its surrounding forest; hunter’s paradise; lake said to be the habitat of giant eel.
Cuatro Islas ( Four Islands)
A forty-five minute pumpboat ride off the coast of Inopacan town in Leyte are four lovely islands namely, Digyo, Apid, Mahaba, and Himokilan. These small islands are bordered by fine white sand and beautiful coral gardens, the best in Leyte Island. A total of 287 species of reef building corals can be found in the islands waters. Cuatro Islas is also a rich fishing ground. Himokilan, the largest of the four, and Mahaba Islands are both inhabited. Himokilan is home to the big and delicious coconut-cracking crabs called. Digyo, the smallest of the four, is a declared sea turtle sanctuary. With only four families living in it, Digyo is practically empty except for coconut trees, shrubs, grasses, and fine white sand. There are no beach resorts in the four islands; therefore it is a must to bring lots of water and food for the day.
Mt. Pangasugan Ecopark
This jungle valley in Brgy. Pangasugan, Baybay, Leyte was once the research site of a team of scientist from nearby Visayas State University (former VISCA) whose aim was to study and catalogue endemic flora and fauna among others. The local government turned the valley into an Ecopark when the research ended. Pangasugan is one of the few remaining virgin rainforests in the Philippines. Its rich ecosystem includes plant and animal species many of which are considered endangered like flying lemurs and tarsiers. Guided tours to the jungle is available at the Baybay Tourism Office.
The Philippines is an island of a hundred festivals. We live tropical life to the core, the hot sun and the warm seas makes us very gay and fun loving. We live for each day and celebrate life to the fullest. Like every Filipino, Leyteños love to party and our festivals are a unique blend of religion, animism, paganism and merry. Our celebrations are punctuated by food galore and “tuba” a coconut wine. Naturally no festival is complete without dancing, hours and hours of dancing and singing!
Palo’s Holy Week Traditions ( every Good Friday; Palo, Leyte)
Palo, Leyte was declared in the Diocesan Synod of 1910 as a center of faith and religiousity in Eastern Visayas. Oldest of Palo’s Holy Week traditions is the Penitentes, a penitential fraternity of cassocked, barefoot, and hooded members organized by Fray Pantaleon de le Fuente, OFM in 1984 supposedly to replace the flagellants, fanatics who whipped themselves or have themselves whipped to atone for wrong doings. The church authorities were alarmed by flagellants whose cult of fanatics was gaining momentum among the faithful.
Turugpo (every Black Saturday; Brgy. Camansi, Carigara, Leyte)
Turugpo is traditional jousts of native carabaos (pasungay) and horses (paaway). Cockfight (karambola) is another attraction. This is day long affair.
Sunduan ha Carigara (Easter Sunday; Carigara, Leyte)
Sunduan takes place on an Easter Sunday. This celebration commemorates the resurrection of Christ. A colourful parade of songs and dances and floats depicts the rich history of the town of Carigara, once a capital of Leyte.
Sanggutan Festival (May 18; Barugo, Leyte)
The Barugo Sanggutan Festival honors the age-old process of coconut wine (tuba). Sanggutan comes from the word “sanggut” or scythe which is a tool used to gather sap from the coconut buds. The collected sap is then fermented to make “tuba”. Tuba making has been and will always be a part of the life of the Barugueño. Sanggutan, the festival, is a dance of celebration. It is dance of men (the mananggetes) and women (their wives, sisters, daughters) involved in the production of the red wine. It is also a dance of men and women enjoying the spirit of this gift from, literally, up high. The costumes are the everyday wear of the mananggete and his family, which is to say the dominant color is red, because the tuba dyes everything and everyone that it touches.
Pasaka Festival (August 14; Tanauan, Leyte)
A dance parade and street pageantry showing the culture of the town of Tanauan as it honors its patron saint, Our Lady of the Assumption. Pasaka connotes warm welcome, progress, and religious homage, and is the native word for assumption. The dance parade is a symbolic send-off of Our Lady of the Assumption where dancers in native costumes carry offerings to the town’s patroness as she is assured into heaven.
Lubi-Lubi Festival (August 15; Calubian, Leyte)
Lubi Lubi is a dance festival extolling the many uses of the coconut parts as costumes, props, and accessories. The dance is in homage to the town’s patron saints, Our Lady of Fatima and St. Roque. This street dance and merrymaking depicts the origin of the town’s name, which means abundance of coconuts (lubi) which is considered as the “tree of life.”
Buyogan Festival (August 19; Abuyog, Leyte)
Adjudged as one of the ten best festivals of the Philippines, Buyogan’s artistic choreography and realistic costumes focus on the appearance and movement of the honeybee locally called“buyog” from where the town’s name originated.
Leyte Gulf Landing’s Anniversary (October 20; Palo and Dulag, Leyte)>
The Anniversary is a commemorative program which marks the anniversary of the Ocotber 20, 1944 landing on Leyte of the Allied Forces of Liberation. The historic event is usually attended by national government officials and dignitaries from embassies of United States, Japan, and Australia as well as World War II veterans who come on a sentimental journey.
Karisyohan han Pasko ha Palo (December 6 – January 6; Palo, Leyte)
The town of Palo, which is the religious center of Eastern Visayas, is transformed into a veritable ”Christmas Village” where the whole community participates in the beautiful Filipino traditions of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. In 1989, Enrico M. Saboren, a tenor based in California, started to decorate his family ancestral house with artistic Christmas decor from abroad. This “House of Fantasy” fascinates people from all walks of life who make it a point to visit Palo to enjoy the unique sights. As part of its annual entertainment, community competitions like best decorated barangay, best belen( nativity scene), best parol (lantern), old traditions of pastores and Christmas carol singing, drum and bugle corps, and other festivities make Christmas in Palo truly enjoyable.
Leyte is accessible by air, land and sea. Tacloban City, the regional center is the transportation hub for both inter and intra regional tours. A traveller can traverse the Philippines, from up north (Manila) to Leyte, down south to Mindanao, through the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway. Fast sea-crafts (SuperCat) ply the Cebu-Ormoc City route daily. The Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific Air service the Manila-Tacloban City and Cebu-Tacloban City routes, with a number of Boeing and Airbus aircraft flights daily.
Manila to Tacloban by Plane:
Flight Schedule from Manila -Tacloban and Tacloban- Manila (Daily)
Philippine Airline Manila to Tacloban:
4:55 AM; 7:45 AM; 1:45PM; 3:55 PM
Cebu Pacific Manila to Tacloban:
4:55 AM; 10:35AM; 3:40PM
Zest Air Manila – Tacloban Daily:
4:00 AM and 5:55AM
Manila to Tacloban by Bus:
From Pasay Bus Terminal, and Cubao (Farmers) Bus Station, take Buses that go to Tacloban. The fare is P700.00 for air-conditioned and P600.00 for non air-con, inclusive of ferry ticket). Price quoted is off peak season. During Christmas, Holy Week and All Saints Day fare can increase by 50%.
ORMOC VILLA HOTEL
Obrero St., Ormoc City
Tel.No.:(053)561-9744 to 47
SABIN RESORT HOTEL
Bantigue, Ormoc City
DON FELIPE HOTEL
Cor. I Larrazabal & Bonifacio
Sts., Ormoc City
Bonifacio St., Ormoc City
Real St., Ormoc City
ORMOC FRIENDLY INN
Lopez Jaena St., Ormoc City
Aviles St., Ormoc City
Purok Dama de Noche
Mejia Subd., Hi-way
Brgy. San Isidro, Ormoc City
mabini St., Ormoc City
CHRISTINA BUSINESS SUITE
Osmeña St., Ormoc City
City Appliance Building
Real Cor. Solidor Sts., Ormoc City
J. Rizal St., Ormoc City
Rizal St., Ormoc City
ZENAIDA'S CHATEAU TOURIST INN
Corner Lopez jaena & J. Navarro Sts., Ormoc City
Mabini St, Baybay City
+63 (053) 335-2442
VSU Compound ,
(053) 335 2647
Magsaysay Ave., Baybay City
Kilim Bay Pension House
Brgy. Kilim, Baybay City
Bonifacio St., Baybay City
JR Pension House
(053) 335 2471
30 de Deciembre St., Baybay City
Baybay Town House
(053) 325 2614
30 de Deceimbre corner Bonifacio Streets,
Carlyns Beach Resort, Sitio Badian,
A beach resort 13 km away from Villaba. There are several tables and kiosk for day picnic at P150 to P100.00 per day. Carlyns has a pebbled beach with steps going down to the beach from the road. No parking area. Overnight accommodation is available on a two story house. Second floor are airconditioned with private bath, and a view of the sea. Fan rooms with common bath are on the ground floor. rooms below have electric fans only with common bath outside.
Lingganay Beach Resort ,
This beach offers good snorkelling due to good underwater vegetation and healthy coral growth. Situated on a rocky promontory, small steps lead down to the beach. Picnic kiosks available for day trips. Offers no overnight accommodation.
Juan-Titang Beach Resort,
Juan Titang is 2 km form the main center of Palompon. The resort offers a good function area for family parties and other gatherings. A small restaurant serves food. Four single suite cottages at P1,000.00 , a 2-bedroom cottages at P500.00 and 3-bedroom cottage at P800.00 (Jan 2008 rates). They have an open space for big celebrations. There is also a restaurant for orders.
San Juan Beach Resort, Sabang Palompon.
San Juan Beach Resort is separated from the beach by the national hi-way, to compensate the resort has their own swimming pool for the guests. This is a two-storey resort has eight rooms The rate includes free breakfast. Common bathroom. Mon and Mila Beach Resort, Tagbubunga, Villaba. Mon and Milas lies between Villaba and Palompon. Clear waters. Good coral formation for snorkelling. Overnight accommodation available : 3 three bedroom bungalows for rent with airconditioning Nipa hut cottage on the side with 3 bedrooms, common toilet and bath